Holding to account Part 1

The mantra so beloved of politicians (current and retired), organisations / ‘influencers’ with some focussed agenda, and ex-officers from public service is about holding an incumbent political party, organisation or agency ‘to account’.

There was a time when having oversight was positive for society, but that was in a era where any criticism was aimed at a policy, not individuals i.e. ‘the ball and not the man’; it was most valid and useful where those levelling such criticism were prepared to propose alternative courses of actions or strategies.

However, increasingly political environments have become much more polarised and hence divisive, and where there was valuable oversight, the emphasis now is to impugn the integrity, intellect and even physical characteristics of those with whom the protagonist disagrees, Nowhere has this been more evident that in the court of King Donald.

Politically, opposition has become completely focussed on looking for avenues to tarnish both man and ball as the end purpose in itself. This is no longer productive. The same trait applies through visible public life, whether by union leaders, TV interviewers, pundits, what the Daily Mail calls ‘experts’ and so on. The assumption is now that every decision or action of the opponent is flawed and self-evidently wrong, and those involved in decision making are mentally challenged, downright incompetent and probably corrupt adulterers too.

However, too often this is a shield for either having no credible alternative policies to voice, and more particularly the knowledge that any alternatives will be subject to the same vitriolic attacks from the erstwhile victims; consider, who knows what labour’s policy on Brexit was before the last election ?? Easier to slag off rather than propose.

In politics, religion, management and life there are those that believe (often passionately) A and those that (equally passionately) believe B. As society becomes more polarised, there is, more often that not, little common ground. Dissent and disagreement is baked in. But ultimately, either by war or elections, one or other side’s broad views prevail, albeit often with some compromise of their original position to maintain social stability.

Grumpy yearns for the days when ‘oversight’ had some value, and generally accepted by both targets and observers as valid comment; and, whether or not there was agreement, at least the sides generally showed civility and respect for each other. In the era of Trump, however, belittling, denigrating and the use of personal insults have become the new norms of politics, and it does not augur well for stability – and indeed fairness – in society.